Optimistic McIlroy 'crossed that line' with Bay Hill win

Rory McIlroy is hopeful further titles will follow this season after ending his drought at Bay Hill.

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play   -  Getty Images

Rory McIlroy says he "crossed that line" by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and is optimistic that ending his drought will lead to a fruitful 2018.

The four-time major champion finished with a sublime eight-under 64 to win by three shots at Bay Hill on the PGA Tour on Sunday.

It was McIlroy's first victory since September 2016 and the former world number one said the long-awaited success served as vindication for fine-tuning his game.

"It was just more a validation that what I've been doing has been correct and the work that I put in during the off-season, it all just came together," the Northern Irishman said at a media conference ahead of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

"I stayed really patient, I thought after five holes on Sunday it might not be my day - I was even-par through five, I'd missed a few chances, I was four behind Henrik [Stenson]." 

"Validation and optimism that I can go ahead and do this more often.

"I feel like I've crossed that line that I needed to, I hadn't won in the past 18 months and it was a real validation and I'm optimistic about not just the next few weeks, but the whole season.

"It's good to get a win early, I've got all that great stuff to fall back on from how I handled everything on Sunday."

McIlroy, who celebrated his victory with two glasses of wine and a bowl of ice cream before falling asleep watching the highlights of the final round at Bay Hill, does not consider himself to be a favourite to claim back-to-back victories in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club this week.

He added: "It's always hard to call 18-hole match play. I've always liked this tournament because I think it's the least pressured event of the year.

"Anyone can beat anyone in 18 holes, the field is the top guys in the world, you don't have any easy matches. Over 18 holes, I remember at Dove Mountain one year, Ben Crane was like seven under through nine and beat me 8 and 7 or 8 and 6.

"You can run into someone like that, who has a really good day, or you can get the luck of the draw and the guys you play against don't play that good. It's hard to pick a favourite."

McIlroy will face Brian Harman, Jhonattan Vegas and Peter Uihlein in the group stage in Texas.

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